Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sebastian Barry - On Canaan's Side, including limited edition

I have written about Sebastian Barry previously, as one of a number of Irish authors whose fiction I like a great deal. On Canaan’s Side is his eighth novel, and follows the very successful Secret Scripture, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction and Costa Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize, narrowly losing out to Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger. On Canaan’s Side has already been longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize ahead of publication, but it would certainly have been my choice for this week in any case. It is published in hardcover only by Faber and Faber on 4th August (although interestingly the Kindle edition was released on 22nd July, making this the true first. However, not much use to a collector!). There will also be 100 signed and numbered copies quarter bound in calf skin and contained in a matching slipcase, at £100 each.

"Narrated by Lilly Bere, On Canaan’s Side opens as she mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. The story then goes back to the moment she was forced to flee Dublin, at the end of the First World War, and follows her life through into the new world of America, a world filled with both hope and danger.
At once epic and intimate, Lilly’s narrative unfurls as she tries to make sense of the sorrows and troubles of her life and of the people whose lives she has touched. Spanning nearly seven decades, it is a novel of memory, war, family-ties and love, which once again displays Sebastian Barry's exquisite prose and gift for storytelling."

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Man Booker Prize 2011 Longlist

The long list for the 2011 Man Booker prize has been announced. The list contains more than a few surprises, along with the usual omissions. This year, seven of the books were issued as paperbacks only which I think must be a record. The 13 books on the list include one former Man Booker Prize winner (Alan Holinghurst, the bookies favourite), two previously shortlisted writers, one longlisted author, four first time novelists and three Canadian writers. The list also includes three new publishers to the prize - Oneworld, Sandstone Press and Seren Books.

The novels from the two previously shortlisted authors (Julian Barnes and Sebastian Barry) have yet to be published. Of the remaining 10 novels, I have previously recommended three, including two of the four first novels. A number of the others passed me by completely during the year, but I suspect I am not alone in this.  Of the ones that missed out, I was particularly sorry about Ann Enright and Edward St.Aubyn - I think that the Melrose quartet of novels will probably stand the test of time well, and the Booker Prize would have been a fitting end (if indeed, the end has been reached!).

Julian Barnes - The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape - Random House)
Sebastian Barry - On Canaan's Side (Faber)
Carol Birch - Jamrach's Menagerie (Canongate Books)
Patrick deWitt - The Sisters Brothers (Granta)
Esi Edugyan Half Blood Blues (Serpent's Tail - Profile)
Yvvette Edwards - A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld)
Alan Hollinghurst - The Stranger's Child (Picador - Pan Macmillan)
Stephen Kelman - Pigeon English (Bloomsbury)
Patrick McGuinness - The Last Hundred Days (Seren Books)
A.D. Miller - Snowdrops (Atlantic)
Alison Pick - Far to Go (Headline Review)
Jane Rogers - The Testament of Jessie Lamb (Sandstone Press)
D.J. Taylor - Derby Day (Chatto & Windus - Random House)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Book of the Week - Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

I am travelling at the moment, and taking the opportunity to catch up on some holiday reading. This is a relatively slow time of the year for new book releases, but one that has caught my eye is Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. I mainly prefer to read literary fiction, with a smattering of crime and an occasional foray into fantasy. Prince of Thorns falls into the latter category, and is a first novel from a research scientist (bound to be good, therefore!). Lawrence has described the book as an homage (or sorts) to A Clockwork Orange - both feature an amoral antihero, which seems like a good starting point to me.

Prince of Thorns has sold to many countries, and there are few collectors more enthusiastic than collectors of fantasy. There is a dedicated website, and a quick search of the internet will reveal a lot of very positive reviews. Goldsboro books have an exclusive 250 copy numbered edition which seems very good value at £14.99, and this is the one that I would go for.

"Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse."

Once a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg's bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Alan Hollinghurst - The Stranger's Child limited editions

Further to my previous post, The Stranger’s Child has received very positive reviews, so I thought it would be of interest to provide some further information on the limited editions. There seem to be two of these in the UK. The first is a signed, numbered slipcased edition of 500 copies available exclusively from Goldsboro books. I have not seen this as yet, so I am not sure if it is the trade edition with a tipped in page in a slipcase, or if there is some other variation. I will provide an update on this when I have seen a copy*.

The second limited edition, which I have seen, is 40 leather bound copies (in green) from Colm Toibin’s Tuskar Rock press - signed, numbered, dated and in a slipcase which I think is linen. In addition, there are 10 hors de commerce copies. This is a beautiful though relatively expensive book, but is likely to be a good investment for a serious collector.

*I have now seen the Goldsboro Books limited edition - this is in a green board slipcase, with silver lettering to the front.  The book itself is in black boards and green endpapers without dustwrapper, and appears to the trade edition with a tipped in limitation page in front of the titlepage.  The numbering (out of 500) is on the limitation page, and Hollinghurst has signed to the title page in blue pen.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Haruki Murakami - IQ84 limited editions

It is now a couple of years since IQ84 by Haruki Murakami was released in Japan, to great acclaim.  It has since been published in a couple of other countries, and the UK edition is due in October this year.  The book was originally published in three volumes - the UK edition will come in two parts, with volume 1 and 2 combined in a single book, and volume 3 separately. There will be both paperback and hardcover editions.

All of Murakami's recent books have also come as limited editions in the UK, sometimes more than one (see my bibliography for further details). Initial indications are of an unusual format for the limited edition on this occasion - an issue of 100 copies of three separate volumes in a single perspex slipcase, with the title and design printed on it. Each book will be handsewn with exposed binding and coloured thread, and will have an individual hand printed cover design. The third volume only will be signed by Haruki Murakami on the back page, and this will be visible through the Perspex slipcase. These details may, of course, change - and the price is to be confirmed, although initial suggestions are £750, which if confirmed would make this by far and away the most expensive Murakami limited edition to date.***

If there are other UK versions I will confirm these as and when I get details. At the moment I am also aware of a leather bound Australian edition from Random House, at 500 AUD, which will postdate the UK edition, but I do not have any further details*.

*As of 9/9/11, Random House Australia are saying that the leather bound edition will now not be available, and are listing a deluxe signed limited edition 3 volume set. I believe that this is the UK edition, which is now being advertised worldwide, but will keep this under review.

**1/10/11, Foyles are releasing an unsigned variant  of the UK trade edition with red edges, limited to 1500 copies.

***6/11/11, For final details of the perspex limited edition please see here.